I have to disclose upfront that I was a huge Walton fan
(the CBS hit run of eight years, based on the novel The Homecoming by
Earl Hammer Jr.), and thus found myself drawn to the main character of
17-year-old Jim Glass, who reminds me so much of John-Boy. So much did I
enjoy The Blue Star, that on finishing it I ran to the nearest library to
take out Jim the Boy, Tony Earley's earlier book, so I could know this
young man as a ten-year old. I was not disappointed.
I also wanted more of the bachelor uncles' wit and wisdom. Uncles Zeno, Al and Coran have helped Jim's mother raise him since his father died the week before he was born. They dispense "tough love" on Jim long before it became a fashionable term, molding this young man into a decent and responsible adult. It is a credit to Earley's writing that glimmers of the uncles' soft hearts can be seen through ...
Tony Earley is the author of Here we Are in Paradise (1994),
Jim the Boy (2000), Somehow Form a Family (2001, stories) and
The Blue Star. Raised in the shadow of the North Carolina Appalachians, the setting of his
Jim books, Earley has been asked how much he draws on his own family life; to
which he replies, "I swiped some family stories, but there's little that
happened to me that happens to Jim".
As for the setting, he says, "There's just something wonderfully mysterious about that part of the world where the road curves and the mountains begin, the feeling that I'm in a different place now." He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is the Samuel Milton Fleming Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.
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